The Other Tremblant
Long and widely proclaimed as Eastern Canada's skiing mecca, Mont-Tremblant,
Que., is one of the highest peaks in the Laurentians. It is host to
international ski races, caterer to year-round, high-end tourism, site
of a formerly glorious Grand Prix racecourse -- and location of the
village and lakeside cottage my parents drove me and my sister to every
weekend when I was young.
It is now possible to buy a million-dollar condo in the shiny new resort
at the base of the once-trembling, now-dormant peak. But back in 1964,
for the price of a cheap used car today, you could get the 1918-vintage
clapboard cabin with no water, power or basement, but with a half-acre
of shoreline property that became my summer playground.
At first, it was frightful. Spiders, snakes, squirrels taunted
and haunted me, a naïve city boy. I couldn't swim. The neighbour's
dogs terrorized me. Deer and bears were out there. It was a wild
Friendship changed everything. Neighbouring kids became family and
the fun began. I learned to swim, row, paddle, float a raft, even waterski.
I grew up there, all summer and every weekend, every year until snowfall.
Mont-Tremblant was a
typical Québécois village — like most before and after
the Quiet Revolution — where the Catholic church, the Letendre brothers'
general store, Matt's Texaco and the post office were the cultural contact
points. But the attraction of a 968-metre high mountain — with ski
trails named Nansen, Sissy Schuss and the Flying Mile — proved irresistible
to well-enough-off Montréalers. They, and we, joined the two-hour
speedburn up the Decarie Expressway, along the Metropolitan, and up
the Laurentian Autoroute.
Laval, St-Jérôme, St-Sauveur-des-Monts, Ste-Adèle,
Ste-Agathe-des-Monts, St-Faustin, St-Jovite — these signs flashed
past my backseat window en route to Mont-Tremblant. We called
it "Up North," even though it was due northwest.
Recession, government takeover and investment by deep-pocketed
commercial developers brought bankruptcy, embarrassment and environmental
controversy to "the Hill." But today, it booms. It
is Aspen, Saint Moritz and Whistler duplicated. Pedalboats, powerboats
and sailboats; slalom skiers, racecar drivers and mountain bikers;
blues fests, art exhibits and gardening contests — the place
has become a gigantic year-round playground.
My visits now are all too short. But I do dream of a week
or two spent lakeside with my family, a good book and a swimsuit.
That is the Tremblant I know and recommend.
Eric Harris, Managing Editor
Can Geo POLL
The Earth’s climate is changing, and it’s causing problems for those of us who live here. From drought to rising seas to melting ice caps, which effect are you most worried about?